ABC Aims for the Possibility of Magic with Deception
By Geannie Bastian
Did I just make a Castle reference? You know I did. Here at ScreenSpy, the whisper has been going around for a while now that ABC’s latest drama Deception is Castle 2.0. So naturally, I begged for the recap spot, with no shame. Because, if this is the next “Castle” then I wanted it, badly. So is it, really? Well, this reviewer might hold off on awarding that title until the Castle creators’ new show Take Two arrives, but Deception does play like a close relative of the former ABC hit, and fans will be happy with it – so long as they don’t fall for the illusion that Deception is a Castle clone.
Having said that, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that in some ways shows promise feels like Deception’s creative team saw the third season Castle episode ”Poof You’re Dead” and had a lightbulb moment that led us here. After all there’s a magician with a secret twin brother, and even an airplane-based illusion. That aside from some witty banter and the moment when frustrated FBI agent Kay handcuffs magician Cameron Black to her car – a joke that plays deliciously differently because handcuffs on an escape artist, really, Kay? – That is where at least for now similarities end.
It’s Cameron here who has something of a fleshed out troubled past – his twin brother Jonathan is in jail for killing a woman, though he swears he didn’t and the crime itself was an illusion. The crime leads to the reveal of Jonathan to the world, and places a rather large stain on Cameron’s magical career. Plus he has to find a way to get his brother out of jail, but a year later he’s no closer. Until, the FBI is track of a drug dealer that is.
Two Mysteries, One Disappearing Airplane
FBI agent Kay Daniels is meeting with a drug dealer named Ruiz, whom she’s been trying to get her hands on for years. And it looks like he’s about to turn himself in. The conversation is taking place aboard an airplane inside the hangar, but we go with it for a minute until Kay steps out of the plane and suddenly agents in the hangar are being hit with red smoke bombs – we hear gunfire and then suddenly the plane explodes.
The dealer and the flight crew are dead, but no one on the ground was injured — a fact which seems impossible, even to the FBI as they investigate the scene the next morning. It seems pretty impossible to Cameron Black too, fresh off a year of trying unsuccessfully to get his brother Jonathan out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Not only that, but Cameron realizes he’s seen this before.
So of course, black shows up to the FBI crime scene unannounced and starts poking around as one does, but only on TV crime shows. He is of course instantly recognized as the world’s greatest illusionist by one of Daniel’s fellow agents, as he tries to explain that the truth is the plane didn’t explode, it disappeared. It’s a trick he’s done before and he knows how it works. When he proves his theory, even the skeptical Daniels has to admit he might just be useful.
And he is – despite some errors – at least early on. They quickly grab a lead through his sleight-of-hand and manage to locate the plane. But, unfortunately, when Kay has to protect Cameron after he slips out of the aforementioned handcuffs, Ruiz gets away. And Kay, who says this case is her life, sends him away.
But of course Cameron’s not done yet. When he fools the FBI into thinking he’s one of Ruiz’s associates, he offers them an opportunity to find their drug dealer using his magic team – a team that had been on the point of revolt, because Cameron hasn’t offered them work in a year. But now they have a real live show – swapping out Ruiz’s money man with Cameron, a blindfolded car chase down a blind alley, and one caught bullet later, Daniels has Ruiz in cuffs – and a surprise for Cameron.
Ruiz had given Cameron enough information to know that the woman who should have been in the car with Jonathan was in fact the illusionist who set them up. But, Kay’s surprise might just be a better clue.
There was one little detail the mysterious illusionist left out when she replicated Cameron’s trick – in the form of a deck of playing cards that had been left behind after the plane disappeared. Kay returns to to the plane wreckage and sure enough, discovers a deck of playing cards. Inside she and Cameron find a cell phone which connects them to the mystery illusionist. Cameron uses a few skills to let her know that he knows where she is right now and she better get used to looking over his shoulder because they are coming for her.
Deception’s Drama, Duos, and Dynamics
When it comes to the set up for this kind of procedural, Deception’s unique elements don’t end at magic. Yes the initially reluctant FBI agent Kay Daniels has some as an as yet unknown personal connection to her case, but at least for now she’s also got her target under arrest. Also, she’s not all that reluctant. Kay’s resistance to Cameron lasts about a minute and a half before she decides he might well be of use to her, and by the end of the episode she’s eagerly volunteering to help Cameron catch the woman who set up Jonathan. And there was some flirty moments in there, maybe – but at this moment theirs is not the most intriguing relationship.
No, what was fascinating to watch was the relationship between Cameron and Jonathan. Briefly, the show alludes to some back story and possible resentment on Jonathan’s part for always being the boy behind the curtain ever since they were children – the person no one knew existed. But Cameron is deeply devoted to Jonathan and will do just about anything to get him out. There’s history here, and complication that is genuinely intriguing, especially when connected with Cameron’s opening reminder that there are two kinds of deception, the kind of illusions magicians play on us and the kind of illusions we fall prey to when we deceive ourselves.
Deception continues, Sundays at 10 PM EDT on ABC.
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